Happy New Year! As we all create our New Year’s Resolutions and get prepared to start offseason training, we need to keep tackling training at the top of our list. We’ve talked a lot about tackling around here and we truly believe that the new year is the best time to start our tackling training with full force. Better tackling starts in the gym, and that means that it can be worked on year-round. Today, I’m sharing with you 7 areas of tackling that you can work on during the offseason. At Tackle Smart, we have six components that make up a great tackler. The one that we want to focus on today is Athleticism. This should be worked on year-round, which is why tackle training should be complemented by focusing on specific areas in the gym year-round. So how can we do that? What skills can we work on that will help us improve our athleticism for tackling year-round? 7 Areas That You Can Work on During the Offseason in the Gym 1. Agility/Footwork I’d argue that this is the most important thing you can start training during the offseason. Without proper agility and footwork, you can forget about everything else as you won't be able to get into a position to make a tackle. 2. Posture Strengthen your posterior chain muscles that will help you lower your tackle height. This will help you to be strong and stable in contact with your force being directed at the appropriate angle. Practicing posture is such an easy thing that you can do in the gym and take onto the field with you when the season starts. 3. Arm Wrap Good shoulder mobility along with a strong and quick reactive arm wrap will reduce your number of missed tackles. This is when you can start putting things together. Once you start practicing your footwork, your agility and nail your posture with a solid shoulder contact, you can put it all together with a strong arm wrap. 4. Collision Power Lower body strength and power are important for maximizing force into the tackle to dominate the collision. You should practice generating or switching on this strength as fast as possible, as tackle situations are so dynamic in nature. Focus and train having complete control over your collision power and you’ll be able to direct it when the time comes and the situation changes. 5. Leg Drive Having control of the ball barrier is one thing but driving him backward is another. Focus on those first 3 explosive steps. With those first 3 steps, you’ll be able to take the ball carrier off his feet. This is incredibly important to be practicing every day in the gym. We often hear the term, ‘Don’t skip leg day’ and that couldn’t be truer than when you’re talking about tackling techniques. 6. Core The core should be worked on during every training session. This is crucial for being strong and stable with forces coming in different directions. Your core is what helps you control a lot of your other movements. A strong core also helps with balance. You’re going to need a strong core to stay on your feet and direction that collision force that we talked about above. Make sure that you’re training your core daily during training. 7. Neck Strength Neck strength not only gives a tackler more confidence but it has also been scientifically proven to reduce concussion rates. Rutgers University has done a study which, to summarize their findings, shows that football and soccer players should better protect their heads during the game and reduce concussions by working on neck strengthening during the pre-season. At Tackle Smart, we are always looking for new ways to help players strengthen their neck muscles, as it’s something we recognize as being so important during the season. With these 7 areas of training, you should find that your offseason training will lead to much better playing on the field during the season. If you focus during the offseason on better tackling techniques and finding ways to strengthen your tackles, you’ll see a lot of improvement and fewer concussions during the season. Keep an eye out for our 'one of a kind' strength and conditioning program specifically for better tackling coming soon in 2020! In the meantime, if you have any questions about the above, always feel free to contact us.